Archive for June, 2016

I just finished up summer school classes today. As a part of the class for the last few days, students had to create a choose-your-own-adventure story using Google Forms. At first glance, the project seems pretty big. There are several steps in creating the story, and getting it all to work out in Google Forms takes some patience and attention to detail. However, after having worked on the project with several students, I found that it is a pretty simple project once they get their minds wrapped around how it works.

This is where the problem rears its ugly head!

A good bunch of students do not like to wrap their minds around anything if they think it has to do with learning. It is amazing how many students would rather sit and look at the wall instead of using their allotted learning time wisely. I think that some of this is human nature, but some of it also has to do with the fact that thinking is work, something teens try to avoid like a kiss from aunt Susan.

This is where technology projects come in handy. Notice that I said technology projects, not just technology. Technology by itself is not the key to engaging students. A computer is only good if the task at hand is meaningful or has a purpose. John McCarthy says in his Edutopia article, “Igniting Student Engagement,” that there are three components to successfully egaging students:

  1. Connect skills and  concepts to student interests.
  2. Engage students in professional dialogue with professionals in the field.
  3. Challengs students to solve a problem, design for a need, or explore their own questions.

This makes a lot of sense, and with technology, the possiblility of accomplishing these tasks is very real. Just think of how much easier all three of these suggestions are when using tech in the classroom.

Too many educators, and especially too many adminstrators, think that having a shiny bank of chromebooks in the front of the room take their rooms and schools to the cutting edge of technology. However, those shiny chromebooks are only good when the students use them to think and learn. Sure, wordprocessing and research are good, but put those skills to work in having a student creat a product that can be share with classmates and even the entire world.

The following links will give you a place to start when planning a technology project to use in the classroom:




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Recently, I attended the GAFE Summit in Riverton, Wyoming. I will have to admit that attending a professional development conference just as the summer begins did not particularly appeal to me. I didn’t really know much about the conference, only that it would be centered around Google Apps.

I have to say that this was probably the best conference/event that I have ever attended. I came away with so many new ideas that I am still not sure how to implement them all in my classroom.

If you are unfamiliar with the GAFE Summit, Click Here. This link will give you some info on the “who and what” of what takes place at one of these conferences. This is how I would sum it up. Basically, it is a two-day conference packed with top notch sessions on how to use Google Apps in the classroom. These sessions are led by teachers and education professionals that know what they are talking about. I attended sessions by Rushton Hurley, Delaine Johnson, and Jeffery Heil.

Here are a few of the things I learned that I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about:

  1. I learned how to help students to use Google Draw to draw comic strips. I actually did this with my summer school students this last week, and they loved it.
  2. I learned how to use Google Forms to create “choose your own adventure stories.” I haven’t tried this one yet, but it is on the docket for later this week.
  3. I learned how to implement 20% projects in the classroom.

These, of course, are just a few of the highlights. I have several pages of notes on little tricks and tips that I can use in the classroom. After two days of classes, my head was so full it was starting to spin.

Looking at the lineup, there are a bunch of these conferences taking place across the globe, so there should be one near you in the future. I would highly recommend these conferences to anyone who wants to add some new tools to the belt.



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